Melissa Swartz | No Jitter | January10, 2015
The sales pitch makes a cloud migration seem easy, but the devil’s in the details.
If a move to the cloud is in your future, hopefully you’ve been able to do some advance preparation, as I’ve previously recommended. In addition, you’ll need to keep in mind a variety of technical considerations.
First, your risk moves from your data center to your cloud connection. If you have a premises system now, then you’re at risk for a failure of the system in your data center and for a failure of your connectivity to the outside world (PRIs, SIP trunks, etc.). When you move to a cloud environment, the risk of system failure moves to the cloud provider. The provider mitigates this risk by having multiple data centers; redundancy in power, cooling, etc.; and established security protocols, among other things.
But for you, all the risk now centers around your ability to connect with that cloud provider. Without that connectivity, your services are either nonexistent or severely compromised. Making sure that this doesn’t occur becomes more important than ever when moving communications to the cloud.
You can mitigate this risk in several ways:
- Multiple connections (two or more Internet or MPLS connections from the same provider for backup if a connection fails)
- Multiple providers (connections from different providers to safeguard against connection and provider failures)
- Different types of connections, such as a primary MPLS connection with an Internet connection for backup, or a primary Internet connection with wireless as backup
- On-site device that serves as a backup to the cloud service if connectivity is lost, providing local call processing and storage for recordings and messages
- On-site device that controls routing over multiple connections, always selecting the best connection
Costs vary for these options, and you’ll need to do some configuration to make failovers seamless. Figuring out the best solution for your situation can take some investigation and analysis.
Second, your infrastructure must be ready for VoIP. Your premises-based system may still support digital phones and/or true analog connections. If you haven’t moved to VoIP already, you need to ensure that your network is ready to support it because cloud solutions require IP voice connections. Cloud providers don’t support digital devices, and they require converters for analog devices. The list of infrastructure considerations includes the ability to support Power over Ethernet (PoE), and configuration of your network for quality of service (QoS). You may require new cabling at locations where a phone exists by itself (like a lobby, break room, etc.) and connects by Cat 3 cabling, since this cable doesn’t support VoIP. You may also need additional power and UPS in the closets at the edge.
Third, you must be prepared for porting your numbers. Typically, the cloud provider takes over your phone numbers and points them into its cloud, routing the calls to you over the oh-so-important connection mentioned above. Moving the numbers to the cloud provider is called “porting.”
The most important thing you can do to prepare for this is to compile an accurate inventory of your existing numbers and identify their use. Sounds easy, right? This is often much harder than it sounds, especially if you have a system that’s been in place for some time.
The first step is to obtain a record of the numbers that your existing carrier thinks you have. Sometimes this list doesn’t match what you have in service, and making corrections can be a laborious process. Give yourself time to get this done, if needed.
Next, you should work with your cloud provider on your migration strategy. Do you want to have one big move, or are you planning to move more gradually? Can your provider support your strategy? We’ve seen a lot of variation among providers in the “rules” that govern these moves, so don’t assume anything without talking to your provider about whether it can accommodate your plans. (For a more in-depth look at number porting, see the No Jitter post, “Number Porting Insanity,” and the comments following it.)
A move to the cloud involves a lot of decisions and isn’t always as easy as promised by the sales team. Becoming aware of the issues and challenges will help you prepare and improve your chances for success.
No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds, with unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content daily. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration. It is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications.